Photo: AHF India staff prep ARVs and other items at “The People’s Clinic”
Anticipating an impending COVID-19 shutdown in India, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) India team began prepping its New Delhi “The People’s Clinic” to safely remain open during the lockdown. This allowed nearly 300 clients to date to remain adherent to treatment through both clinic and mobile antiretroviral (ARV) delivery and provided essential tele-counseling services to all who need them.
Efforts included preparing packs of two-month supplies of ARVs, implementing stringent sanitation measures within the facility, and intensive ARV training for both clinic staff and essential workers and partners that would be assisting clients.
“Thanks to this team’s hard work, we‘ve been able to ensure clients can continue to keep their viral loads at an undetectable level and remain untransmittable for HIV,” said AHF India Country Program Director, Dr. V. Sam Prasad. “I want to thank everyone who has contributed – from all our staff to the non-clinic personnel, including delivery drivers, security guards, testing and counseling cadre, and many others – we could not support our clients without you all.”
Advocacy on two fronts was also key to client support. Clients typically only receive medicine at specified clinics. But because of the government lockdown, AHF India coordinated with the National AIDS Control Organization, urging that clients be allowed to get ARVs from other facilities. That worked, and many clients received HIV medicine from ART centers near their homes.
Another key intervention resulted in access to soap to promote hand washing among people living with HIV/AIDS, which are being delivered free with every ARV pack.
AHF India continues to make tele-counseling services available via phone and social media, including Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp chat – especially for the LGBT communities – to answer questions surrounding COVID-19 and their health and promote the importance of taking care of their mental wellbeing.